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      Preparations underway for blues festival

      Columbiaâ??s Roots N Blues N Barbecue festival begins tomorrow in a new location.

      The event moved from the downtown area to Stephens Lake Park at the corner of Broadway and Old Highway 63.

      Set-up crews are rolling along as they prepare for Columbiaâ??s biggest music festival of the year in a new spot. Columbia police officers are also getting ready for traffic and parking problems near Stephens Lake Park.

      Columbia police Sgt. Curtis Perkins said, â??People need to pay attention with a lot of pedestrian traffic in the area. We have some potential to have some traffic back ups. We just want people to pay attention and be alert. The ideal situation would be to limit the traffic area as much as possible.â??

      Columbia police will turn nearby sections of Walnut Street and Old Highway 63 into one-way streets to help control traffic flow. The only parking available at this yearâ??s festival will be a few handicap spots because of the new location. Festival organizers encourage all festival goers to use the festivalâ??s shuttle. For $5, you can use shuttles from all 5 parking garages in Downtown Columbia throughout the entire festival.

      Festival Organizer Steve Sweitzer said, â??We have shuttles running every 7 minutes to pick you up and bring you to the park. Those shuttles run all day long before and after the festival. Weâ??ll get you home safe.â??

      Besides the new location, this yearâ??s festival changes include the fourth largest traveling stage in the nation and a Ferris wheel. One thing that hasnâ??t changed is the music and barbecue.

      The festival starts tomorrow at 5:15 p.m. and ends Sunday night.